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Arts & Culture

'The Third Man' 4K Digital Restoration Comes To Ken Cinema

Carol Reed's "The Third Man" gets a 4K digital restoration that is bringing out details audiences can now appreciate in their full glory.
Rialto Pictures
Carol Reed's "The Third Man" gets a 4K digital restoration that is bringing out details audiences can now appreciate in their full glory.

Film classic returns to big screen and outshines anything new in theaters

The Third Man Arrives In 4K Restoration
'The Third Man'
Revisiting "The Third Man" in 4K.

ANCHOR INTRO: A 4K restoration of The Third Man opens Friday at the Ken Cinema. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says nothing new can compete with this more than half-century old classic. CLIP Heard of Harry Lime? If you haven’t heard of Harry Lime then drop everything and rush over to the Ken Cinema to see a glorious digital restoration of The Third Man on the big screen. CLIP It’s a murder story, based on fact. It’s called the Third Man. There’s nothing new in theaters that can even hold a candle to the masterful direction of Carol Reed and deliciously clever script by Graham Greene. The delirious skewed angles, seductively rich shadows, and memorable zither score all add up to make this a cinematic classic. Plus Orson Welles is at his sly best as the mysterious Harry Lime. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. TAG: Beth’s Cinema Junkie podcast – featuring film reviews and interviews -- is now available on iTunes.

Companion Viewing

"Odd Man Out" (1947)

"Touch of Evil" (1958)

"Alligator" (1980, for graffiti on a sewer wall at the end of the film that reads "Harry Lime Lives")

A 4K restoration of "The Third Man" opens Friday at the Ken Cinema and that's cause for celebration. NOTE: run has been extended through Aug. 6.

This week has been interesting because it started with seeing the 1944 film noir gem "Double Indemnity" at the AMC mall theater in Mission Valley and it ends with the 1950 noir classic "The Third Man" arriving on the big screen at Landmark.

Both films are more than a half century old and both kick ass on anything new playing in theaters.

I don't want to sound like that old curmudgeon grumbling that "they don't make 'em like they used," but dammit, it seems true as I scan the list of films currently playing in theaters.

Sure, there's some excellent filmmaking on display with "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," and there's mindlessly entertaining fare like "Ant-Man," and even exquisite art house work like "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence."

But will we be talking about these films in 50 years and holding them up as examples of the best cinema has to offer? Doubtful.

While it's disheartening to think that nothing new this week can beat films made well before I was born, it's also exhilarating that these old black and white films have lost none of their luster.

"Double Indemnity" was wicked fun with it's ruthless tale of murder and greed. It glistened with the seductive allure of that anklet Barbara Stanwyck wore as she came down the stairs and hooked Fred MacMurray. Seeing it on the big screen and introducing it to people who had never seen it before was a great experience.

Now, to close out the week, another noir masterpiece returns to the big screen to dazzle yet again. One of the trailers for "The Third Man" has Joseph Cotton's character asking if you've "heard of Harry Lime?"

If you haven’t heard of Harry Lime then drop everything and rush over to the Ken to see the glorious 4K digital restoration of "The Third Man." Go now and camp out until it opens to show proper respect. (Sorry, still in Comic-Con mode and I feel the need to make an event of this.)

There’s nothing new in theaters that can even hold a candle to the masterful direction of Carol Reed and deliciously clever script by Graham Greene. The delirious camera angles, seductively rich shadows, and memorable zither score all add up to make this a cinematic classic.

Just savor that image above of Orson Welles as Harry Lime in the sewers beneath Vienna — appreciate how black the shadows are, how carefully framed the shot is, and how dynamic and mesmerizing it is.

And the black and white photography in the new 4K restoration is just intoxicating. I know there are purists out there who will say it needs to be projected on 35mm, and while projected 35mm film has a magic uniquely its own, I can't dismiss the beauty of a digital and lovingly restored film.

"The Third Man" is essential viewing for anyone who loves cinema. It set a standard that is too rarely met plus it boasts a dashing Welles at his best.

NOTE: Subscribe to the new Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes to stay up to date with all of my reviews and enjoy gems from nearly three decades of interview archives, including one with Sir Ian McKellan talking about adapting Shakespeare to the screen.